Liberal US Jewish groups ask Israeli politicians to oppose West Bank annexation
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Liberal US Jewish groups ask Israeli politicians to oppose West Bank annexation

J Street, T’ruah and the New Israel Fund lobby Knesset members to rally against move, even if it receives approval from Trump

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a map of the Jordan Valley, vowing to extend Israeli sovereignty there if reelected, during a speech in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a map of the Jordan Valley, vowing to extend Israeli sovereignty there if reelected, during a speech in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

JTA — A coalition of liberal American Jewish groups is sending a letter to the leaders of Israel’s political parties asking them to oppose Israeli annexation of the West Bank — even if US President Donald Trump gives it a green light.

The groups already are on record opposing a potential Israeli annexation of part or all of the West Bank, which Prime Minister Netanyahu has pledged to pursue if he continues in office. But the letter, written by a coalition called the Progressive Israel Network, aims to tell Israel’s political leaders that approval from Trump does not mean widespread support for annexation from either American Jewry or supporters of Israel at large. Polls show that a majority of American Jews support the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“Mistaking such a ‘green light’ from the president — for any type of consensus on the part of either US political party — would be a dangerous error for Israel,” the letter reads. “Simply put, the approach of this president does not represent the long-term interests and likely future policy of the United States.”

The Progressive Israel Network consists of 10 liberal Jewish groups, including the Israel lobby J Street, the rabbinic human rights group T’ruah and the New Israel Fund, which supports a range of progressive groups in Israel. Three liberal groups that are not part of the coalition — the Israel Policy Forum, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association — also signed onto the letter.

“Carrying out unilateral annexations in the West Bank would ultimately destroy Israeli democracy and lead the country down a disastrous path to permanent conflict,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. “It’s vital for Israeli leaders to recognize that whatever the dangerous and deluded policies of the Trump Administration, the vast majority of Americans and American Jews are strongly opposed to annexation and remain deeply committed to the achievement of a peaceful two-state solution.”

Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government following September’s elections and a third election in Israel in less than a year could be looming.

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